music clip of the day


Category: classical

Thursday, March 5th

No matter what, music remains.

Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006), String Quartet No. 1 (1953-54), live (Erica Kiesewetter and Yinbin Qian, violins; Marie Daniels, viola; Jake Hanegan, cello), Texas (Round Top), 2011

Wednesday, February 25th

never enough

Only a great artist could play so simply.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)/Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924), Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme; Solomon (AKA Solomon Cutner [1902-1988]), recording, 1948

Saturday, February 21st

Twenty-four hours ago I’d never heard of this piece, nor this composer. Now I’ve listened to it, hungrily, twice. What a world.

Sulkhan Tsintsadze (1925-1991), String Quartet No. 6 (1968)

Friday, January 30th

string quartet festival (day five)

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), String Quartet in F major (1903); Hagen Quartet, live, Austria (Salzburg), 2000

1st movt.

2nd movt.

3rd movt.

4th movt.

Thursday, January 29th

string quartet festival (day four)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), String Quartet No. 8 in C minor (1960); Borodin Quartet, live

Wednesday, January 28th

string quartet festival (day three)

Bela Bartok (1881-1945), String Quartet No. 6, 1939; Alban Berg Quartet, live

1st movt.


2nd movt.


3rd movt./part 1


3rd movt./part 2


4th movt.



reading table

Everything always reminds one of its opposite.

—Robert Walser (1878-1956), “Snowdrops” (translated from German by Tom Whalen and Trudi Anderegg)

Tuesday, January 27th

string quartet festival (day two)

Back to the beginning—the “father” of the string quartet.

Josef Haydn (1732-1808), String Quartet in C-major, Op. 76, No. 3 (“Emperor”), c. 1796; St. Lawrence String Quartet, live, Houston, 2014

Monday, January 26th

string quartet festival (day one)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), String Quartet No. 14 (Op. 131, C-sharp minor), 1826

Alban Berg Quartet, live, Vienna, 1989


Végh Quartet, recording, 1952


Budapest String Quartet, recording, 1951



musical thoughts

Opus 131 . . . is routinely described as Beethoven’s greatest achievement, even as the greatest work ever written. Stravinsky called it ‘perfect, inevitable, inalterable.’ It is a cosmic stream of consciousness in seven sharply contrasted movements, its free-associating structure giving the impression, in the best performances, of a collective improvisation. At the same time, it is underpinned by a developmental logic that surpasses in obsessiveness anything that came before. The first four notes of the otherworldly fugue with which the piece begins undergo continual permutations, some obvious and some subtle to the point of being conspiratorial. Whereas the Fifth Symphony hammers at its four-note motto in ways that any child can perceive, Opus 131 requires a lifetime of contemplation. (Schubert asked to hear it a few days before he died.)

—Alex Ross, “Deus Ex Musica,” New Yorker, 10/20/14

Saturday, January 17th

If your appetite for new music is insatiable, what better time to be alive?

Tyshawn Sorey (1980-), Quartet for Butch Morris (2012); International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), featuring Erik Carlson (violin); Joshua Rubin (bass clarinet), Eric Lamb (flute), Cory Smythe (piano); live, New York, 2012

Six decades of listening and, until yesterday, I’d never heard this particular combination of instruments. You?



art beat: yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago

James Ensor (1860-1949), Rooftops of Ostend, 1884 (Temptation: The Demons of James Ensor, through January 25th)



reading table

Nature, the sky above us, is conducting no mean politics when it presents beauty to all, without discrimination, and nothing old and defective, but fresh and most tasty.

—Robert Walser (1878-1956), “Snowdrops,” excerpt (translated from German by Tom Whalen and Trudi Anderegg)

Wednesday, January 14th

sounds of Chicago (day two)

Sometimes encountering a new piece of music can turn your whole day around, which is what happened to me the other day when I bumped into this.

Georg Friedrich Haas (1953-), In Vain (2000)
Ensemble Dal Niente, live, Chicago, 2013



art beat: yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Cliff Walk at Pourville (1882)



Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Seascape (1879)



random thoughts

Eyes taste paintings no less than mouths taste food.


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